Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, situated in the Indian state of Kerala is a part of the Nilgiri biosphere reserve and is contiguous to three other protected areas of Nagarhole, Bandipur and Mudumalai. Established in the year 1973, the sanctuary also falls under project Elephant which was launched in 1991 to save the dwindling tusker population.
The sanctuary is situated in one of the least populous districts of Kerala which lends a unique charm to the place. A thrill and excitement of being away from the more populous areas combined with trespassing into unmanned territory makes for a special holiday experience.
Flora and Fauna:
The flora of Wayanad are characteristic of the Western Ghats and the plantation crops grown in the cool climate. A major portion of the district is covered by coffee. Trees of the wild type like rose-wood, anjili (Artocarpus), mullumurikku (Erthrina), several species of caussia and many other non-descrip varieties are still preserved here and there, to give shade to the coffee plants. These trees give a dembalance of wilderness to the landscape of Wayanad. In a majority of coffee plantations, the age-old species are replaced by the silver-oak which is suited to the cold climate. This tree grows quickly and its cultivation is widespread among coffee plantations for shade and for giving support to pepper. It is used for the plywood industry and thus is economical to the farmers. Eucalyptus grandis, a shorter variety of eucalyptus, whose fragrant smell suffuses the very air around it, is cultivated on a large scale in centain parts of the district. Eucalyptus oil is extracted on commercial basis from its leaves. Of the 20,864 hectares of reserve forest, the major portion is teak plantation. Arecanut palms and jack trees are also grown here.
Tea is grown as an industry in large estates. The soil and climate of Wayanad are suitable for horiculture on commercial basis. For promoting the cultivation of vegetables and raising of orchards, the Kerala Agricultural University is running a Regional Agricultural Research Station at Ambalavayal. With the clearing of forests, the diverse and buzzling animal life, characteristic of the forests of Western Ghats, has vanished from Wayanad. One can still see the bonnet monkeys, loris, mongooses, jungle cats, squirrels, jackals, hares, etc. in the limited forest areas. Elephant, bear and other wild animals from the neighbouring wild life sanctuaries of Karnadaka and Tamil Nadu, stray into the Begur forest range and the forests around Muthanga, which is 20 kilometres away from the town of Sulthan Bathery.
Major Wildlife Attractions:
Despite the fast depleting forest cover and human intrusion, the park still houses a number of animal and bird species. Some of the major animals found in the area include elephants, tigers, gaur, sloth, cheetal, leopards, dholes, jackals and otters among other species of fauna.
Besides animals, the sanctuary is home to a large number of avifaunal species which include crested serpent eagle, red-wattled lapwings, crested hawk eagle, king vulture, malabar grey hornbill and nightjars. Some species of butterfly can also be spotted including the common leopard butterfly.
There are no safaris offered by the forest department, however there are plans to start one in the near future. You can take your own vehicle into the sanctuary but taking along a local guide is mandatory. Chances of spotting animals are best in the early hours of morning as also during the evening. It is better to start the day as early as 6 in the morning. Prior permission has to be obtained from the forest department.
Best Time to Visit:
The best time to visit the sanctuary is from October to February
How to Get there:
Air: Karipur International Airport at Kozhikode is the nearest airport.
Rail: Mysore is the nearest railhead
Road: The sanctuary is demarcated into the upper and lower regions. To reach upper Wayanad from Kozhikode, take the NH212 to Kalpetta. From there, take the state highway to Kartikulam via Mananthavady from where a district road will take you to Tholpetty. To reach from Bangalore, take the state highway to Mysore via Maddur and Mandya. From here, follow the NH212 to Sulthan Bathery via Gundlupet.
General Info / Tips:
Some of the park charges include Entry fee : Rs. 10 (Indians) & Rs. 100 (foreigners), Guide : Rs. 100, Vehicle Entry : Rs. 50-150 (depending on vehicle size).
Sanctuary timings are 6 to 9 AM and 3 to 6 PM.
Confrontations between man and wildlife is not uncommon, so observe the rules of the park strictly for your own safety.
Wear dull colored clothes, follow the instructions of your guide and never get off your vehicle, especially in the presence of animals.
Sulthan Bathery (15 km)